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Bengals' Dalton better since coach's challenge

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Bengals' Dalton better since coach's challenge

CINCINNATI (AP) Andy Dalton's demeanor hasn't changed since coach Marvin Lewis challenged him to become more of a leader, even if it meant going against his character and being a jerk sometimes.

The quarterback's numbers, though, have gotten much better.

The Bengals have won three of the four games since Lewis publicly challenged Dalton to lead the offense and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to take charge of the defense. Cincinnati has won three in a row by at least 18 points - its best streak of blowouts since 1976 - and the two players have given their finest performances.

Lewis considers his unusual challenge a success.

``Their play is hopefully a byproduct of the reinforcement of their abilities that I gave them, the empowerment of their abilities, and the `at-a-boys' to move forward but take control of it all,'' Lewis said.

The Bengals (6-5) are tied with Pittsburgh for the final AFC wild card berth heading into a game Sunday at San Diego (4-7).

In the four games since Lewis put him on the spot, Dalton has improved his performance significantly. He threw for 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in the first seven games, a passer rating of 87.7 that would be slightly better than average.

Since Lewis' challenge, he has completed 62 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns, only one interception and a 105.7 passer rating. His personality is the same, but the numbers are much different.

``You know what? I don't see Andy as a changed player,'' offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. ``I think Andy is always going to be Andy. He's going to lead by example and he's a very competitive guy, but he's not a very vocal guy. He's not the type of guy that's going to yell at guys for screwing up. He's going to try to correct guys.

``But I just think his sense of urgency has picked up a little bit. He knew he had to play better for us to win, and he's picked up his game considerably.''

So has Maualuga, who was often out of place early in the season. He's become more dependable during the three-game winning streak, during which Cincinnati has allowed only 13, 6 and 10 points.

The two of them have been so good that Lewis has rewarded them with official ``captain'' designations. After calling on them to lead, he started sending them out as captains for the coin flip before each game. He decided to give them a small ``C'' on the front of their uniforms before a 34-10 win over Oakland on Sunday.

Lewis didn't tell them about the designation before they arrived for the game.

``It just came to me one morning running that I should go ahead and put the C's on their jerseys and make it known that way and continue to empower them to do the things I've asked them to do,'' said Lewis, who hadn't designated anyone a captain in two years.

Both players were surprised to see the small letter on the front of their jerseys when they showed up for the game.

``I usually grab my shoulder pads, put them on the ground, get all my clothes lined up, see what I'm going to wear,'' Maualuga said. ``Then I saw it. I took a second to sit there. I don't know - I was in awe. It was sort of like a blessing and an honor. But you've got to put that jersey on and make sure you go out there and lead and do your part.''

Dalton didn't see it coming, either.

``I've been a captain everywhere I've been,'' Dalton said. ``To earn that and get the respect of the coaches and Marvin, it's definitely a cool thing.

``For me and Rey to have the `C' on the jersey, (Lewis) is saying, `These are the leaders of the team.' He challenged us a couple weeks ago and we've responded well. It's a good thing to show that and put the C's on our jerseys.''

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Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today

Capitals vs. Canucks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-2) head to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after an overtime/shootout loss against the Florida Panthers last Friday. 

The Caps are determined to avoid the devastation they felt in the first period when they gave away four goals to the Panthers. They will need to focus in the power plays and avoid penalties at all costs.

Many fans were looking forward to the reunion with former player Jay Beagle, who is now centerman for the Canucks, but he is unfortunately out on injury. However you can look out for Caps Nic Dowd, who will have his own homecoming game against his former team. 

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canucks which takes place at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.
 

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 8 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When: Monday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Canucks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Canucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS SCHEDULE

9:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
9:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:00 PM: Capitals vs. Canucks
12:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lars Eller, F, Capitals: In his last game, he had a three-point night with three assists. He is a messaive help and shined within the trio of Vrana and Connoly on Friday.

Tim Schaller, F, Canucks: He was struggling in the preseason but came back with a vengeance. He assisted with a penatly kill and is a key component in fourth line. 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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Wizards vs. Trail Blazers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards vs. Trail Blazers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards head to the West Coast to open a road swing against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night.

Wizards (0-2) are looking for their first win when the head into Portland to face Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers (2-0).

After this game, the Wizards have a tough stretch ahead of them before playing in D.C. again, playing at: Golden State, Sacramento, LA (Lakers) and Memphis.

WIZARDS vs. TRAIL BLAZERS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Miami Heat, 2018 NBA regular season Game 3
Where: Moda Center, Portland, Ore.
When: 10:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Trail Blazers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Trail Blazers on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the new MyTeams App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. TRAIL BLAZERS TV SCHEDULE

8:30 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

9:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

10:00 PM: Wizards @ Portland Trail Blazers (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard remains day-to-day with a back injury.
Trail Blazers: None

WIZARDS vs. BLAZERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards: After becoming the Wizards franchise leader in 3 points on Saturday, it is likely Beal will have a lot to prove to help the team get its first win.

Otto Porter, Jr., Wizards: Porter has had a slow start, so will he take more shots in Portland?

Damian Lillard, Portland: The Blazers' star is leading the way this season averaging 28.5 ppg and 6.5 assists per game. 

WIZARDS vs. BLAZERS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 111 games
Regular Season Record: Blazers lead 57-54
Last Meeting: Wizards won 106-92 in December 2017